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New bicycle trail offers safer, faster route from UF to Haile Plantation

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Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2008 12:00 am

A bicycle trail connecting UF and Haile Plantation could provide a faster and safer alternative to sidewalks and busy streets.

The trail would start at UF, curving around parts of Lake Alice, before following power lines west to Southwest Gainesville past Interstate 75, north of Lake Kanapaha and Haile Plantation.

The Alachua County Growth Management Department will present an overview of the trail at a workshop on Monday that will also explain the county's overall plan to improve transportation. It will be at Haile Plantation, 5100 S.W. 91st Terrace, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Although bicycle commuters can already get between Haile Plantation and UF using bicycle lanes and sidewalks, the trail would be a safer and quicker route, said Jonathan Paul, the concurrency and impact fee manager for Alachua County Growth Management.

Although other trails are used for recreation, the Archer Braid Trail is intended to specifically target commuters, he said.

Connecting Haile Plantation to UF could make bicycle commuting a more viable option, he said, though he didn't think it would open up the area to student housing.

The trail would be funded by a county fee paid by developers.

However, the trail is facing obstacles.

Paul said working with landowners is the biggest challenge. The county will deal with the residents through the homeowners' association.

Staff is meeting with property owners to discuss their rights and will report findings to the county commission, which will provide direction on how to take the next step.

Other aspects of construction are also proving challenging.

Landscaping would be an issue since the trail's route would follow power lines.

It would also be constructed near Lake Kanapaha, an environmentally sensitive area, he said. Areas next to the lake are more likely to flood when it rains, and the trail might have to be a boardwalk in certain parts, he said.

"This is far from a done deal," Paul said.

Welcome to the discussion.